The Intelligence of Dogs

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The Intelligence of Dogs
Author Stanley Coren
Country United States
Language English
Genre Science & Nature
Publication date
  • 10 May 1994
Media type Print (hardback and paperback)
Pages 336

The Intelligence of Dogs is a book on dog intelligence by Stanley Coren, a professor of canine psychology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.[1] Published in 1994, the book explains Coren's theories about the differences in intelligence between different breeds of dogs.[2][3][4] Coren published a second edition in 2006.[5]

Coren defines three aspects of dog intelligence in the book: instinctive intelligence, adaptive intelligence, and working and obedience intelligence.[6] Instinctive intelligence refers to a dog's ability to perform the tasks it was bred for, such as herding, pointing, fetching, guarding, or supplying companionship.[6] Adaptive intelligence refers to a dog's ability to solve problems on its own.[6] Working and obedience intelligence refers to a dog's ability to learn from humans.[6]


The book's ranking focuses on working and obedience intelligence. Coren sent evaluation requests to American Kennel Club and Canadian Kennel Club obedience trial judges, asking them to rank breeds by performance, and received 199 responses, representing about 50 percent of obedience judges then working in East America.[6] Assessments were limited to breeds receiving at least 100 judge responses.[6] This methodology aimed to eliminate the excessive weight that might result from a simple tabulation of obedience degrees by breed. Its use of expert opinion followed precedent.[7][8]

Coren found substantial agreement in the judges' rankings of working and obedience intelligence, with Border collies consistently named in the top ten and Afghan Hounds consistently named in the lowest.[6] The highest ranked dogs in this category were Border collies, Poodles, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Doberman Pinschers.[9]

Dogs that are not breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club or Canadian Kennel Club (such as the Jack Russell Terrier) were not included in Coren's rankings.


When Coren's list of breed intelligence first came out there was much media attention and commentary both pro[10] and con.[11] However over the years the ranking of breeds and the methodology used have come to be accepted as a valid description of the differences among dog breeds in terms of the trainability aspect of dog intelligence.[12][13][14] In addition, measurements of canine intelligence using other methods have confirmed the general pattern of these rankings[15] including a new study using owner ratings to rank dog trainability and intelligence.[16] 79 ranks are given (plus 52 ties), a total of 138 breeds ranked:[17]

Brightest Dogs

  • Understanding of New Commands: Fewer than 5 repetitions.
  • Obey First Command: 95% of the time or better.[18]
    1. Border Collie
    2. Poodle
    3. German Shepherd
    4. Golden Retriever
    5. Doberman Pinscher
    6. Shetland Sheepdog
    7. Labrador Retriever
    8. Papillon
    9. Rottweiler
    10. Australian Cattle Dog

    Excellent Working Dogs

  • Understanding of New Commands: 5 to 15 repetitions.
  • Obey First Command: 85% of the time or better.[18]
    1. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
    2. Miniature Schnauzer
    3. English Springer Spaniel
    4. Belgian Shepherd Dog (Tervuren)
    5. Schipperke
    6. Belgian Sheepdog
    7. Collie
    8. Keeshond
    9. German Shorthaired Pointer
    10. Flat-Coated Retriever
    11. English Cocker Spaniel
    12. Standard Schnauzer
    13. Brittany
    14. Cocker Spaniel
    15. Weimaraner
    16. Belgian Malinois
    17. Bernese Mountain Dog
    18. Pomeranian
    19. Irish Water Spaniel
    20. Vizsla
    21. Cardigan Welsh Corgi

    Above Average Working Dogs

  • Understanding of New Commands: 15 to 25 repetitions.
  • Obey First Command: 70% of the time or better.[18]
    1. Chesapeake Bay Retriever
    2. Puli
    3. Yorkshire Terrier
    4. Giant Schnauzer
    5. Portuguese Water Dog
    6. Airedale Terrier
    7. Bouvier des Flandres
    8. Border Terrier
    9. Briard
    10. Welsh Springer Spaniel
    11. Australian Shepherd
    12. Manchester Terrier
    13. Samoyed
    14. Field Spaniel
    15. Newfoundland
    16. Australian Terrier
    17. American Staffordshire Terrier
    18. Gordon Setter
    19. Bearded Collie
    20. Cairn Terrier
    21. Kerry Blue Terrier
    22. Irish Setter
    23. Norwegian Elkhound
    24. Affenpinscher
    25. Australian Silky Terrier
    26. Miniature Pinscher
    27. English Setter
    28. Pharaoh Hound
    29. Clumber Spaniel
    30. Norwich Terrier
    31. Dalmatian

    Average Working/Obedience Intelligence

  • Understanding of New Commands: 25 to 40 repetitions.
  • Obey First Command: 50% of the time or better.[18]
    1. Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier
    2. Bedlington Terrier
    3. Smooth Fox Terrier
    4. Curly Coated Retriever
    5. Irish Wolfhound
    6. Kuvasz
    7. Australian Shepherd
    8. Saluki
    9. Finnish Spitz
    10. Pointer
    11. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
    12. German Wirehaired Pointer
    13. Black and Tan Coonhound
    14. American Water Spaniel
    15. Siberian Husky
    16. Bichon Frise
    17. Havanese
    18. King Charles Spaniel
    19. Tibetan Spaniel
    20. English Foxhound
    21. Otterhound
    22. Jack Russell Terrier
    23. American Foxhound
    24. Greyhound
    25. Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
    26. West Highland White Terrier
    27. Scottish Deerhound
    28. Boxer
    29. Great Dane
    30. Dachshund
    31. Shiba Inu
    32. Staffordshire Bull Terrier
    33. Alaskan Malamute
    34. Whippet
    35. Chinese Shar Pei
    36. Wire Fox Terrier
    37. Rhodesian Ridgeback
    38. Ibizan Hound
    39. Welsh Terrier
    40. Irish Terrier
    41. Boston Terrier
    42. Akita

    Fair Working/Obedience Intelligence

  • Understanding of New Commands: 40 to 80 repetitions.
  • Obey First Command: 30% of the time or better.[18]
    1. Skye Terrier
    2. Norfolk Terrier
    3. Sealyham Terrier
    4. Pug
    5. French Bulldog
    6. Griffon Bruxellois
    7. Maltese
    8. Italian Greyhound
    9. Coton de Tulear
    10. Chinese Crested
    11. Dandie Dinmont Terrier
    12. Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen
    13. Tibetan Terrier
    14. Japanese Chin
    15. Lakeland Terrier
    16. Old English Sheepdog
    17. Great Pyrenees
    18. Scottish Terrier
    19. Saint Bernard
    20. Bull Terrier
    21. Chihuahua
    22. Lhasa Apso
    23. Bullmastiff

    Lowest Degree of Working/Obedience Intelligence

  • Understanding of New Commands: 80 to 100 repetitions or more.
  • Obey First Command: 25% of the time or worse.[18]
    1. Shih Tzu
    2. Basset Hound
    3. Mastiff
    4. Beagle
    5. Pekingese
    6. Bloodhound
    7. Borzoi
    8. Chow Chow
    9. Bulldog
    10. Basenji
    11. Afghan Hound

    See also


    1. ^ Coren, Stanley (1995). The Intelligence of Dogs: A Guide To The Thoughts, Emotions, And Inner Lives Of Our Canine Companions. New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-37452-4. 
    2. ^ Boxer, Sarah (1994-06-05). "My Dog's Smarter Than Your Dog". New York Times. 
    3. ^ Wade, Nicholas (1994-07-03). "METHOD AND MADNESS; What Dogs Think". New York Times. 
    4. ^ Croke, Vicki (1994-04-21). "Growling at the dog list". Tribune New Service (published in the Boston Globe). 
    5. ^ "Showing all editions for 'The intelligence of dogs : a guide to the thoughts, emotions, and inner lives or our canine companions'". WorldCat. Retrieved 2011-10-23. 
    6. ^ a b c d e f g Stanley Coren (July 15, 2009). "Canine Intelligence—Breed Does Matter". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2011-08-16. 
    7. ^ Hart, BL; Hart (1985). "LA". JAVMA. 186: 1181–1185. 
    8. ^ Hart, BL; Hart, LA (1988). The Perfect Puppy. New York: Freeman. 
    9. ^ Stanley Coren. "Excerpted from "The Intelligence of Dogs"". Retrieved 2011-10-23. 
    10. ^ Example: Perrin, Noel (April 10, 1994). "How Do Dogs Think?". Chicago Sun-Times. 
    11. ^ Example: "Coren's Canine List Has Owners Growling". April 30, 1994. Apr 30, 1994. 
    12. ^ Example:Csányi, Vilmos (2000). If dogs could talk: Exploring the canine mind. New York: North Point Press. 
    13. ^ Example:Miklósi, Ádám (2009). Dog Behaviour, Evolution, and Cognition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
    14. ^ Davis, SL; Cheeke PR (August 1998). "Do domestic animals have minds and the ability to think? A provisional sample of opinions on the question". Journal of Animal Science. 76 (8): 2072–2079. 
    15. ^ Example: Helton, WS (November 2009). "Cephalic index and perceived dog trainability". Behavioural Processes. 83 (3): 355–358. doi:10.1016/j.beproc.2009.08.004. 
    16. ^ Coren, Stanley (2006). Why does my dog act that way? A complete guide to your dog's personality. New York: Free Press. 
    17. ^ "Ranking of Dogs for Obedience/Working Intelligence by Breed". Archived from the original on January 2, 2012. 
    18. ^ a b c d e f Coren1995
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